Jan 18, 2008 4:57am
Re: top ten
I have a Word document describing the most-downloaded shows on the archive, 1966-1979, and all the band's commercial releases. One page per show, with set lists, background info, and the most useful reviews. Send me a note at mmiedmonds [at] gmail.com and I'll send you a copy.
My personal short-list at the moment is:
1966-03-xx? Ivar Theater
Los Angeles, CA. Wonderful sound quality, and performances that sound like the Byrds with depth and soul. Some appeared on "Early Cuts & Oddities" CD. One of the "top three of this whole site."
First dated 2/25/66, but Owsley says that was the date of an Acid Test and not the Ivar Theater. On "Early Cuts & Oddities" some of these tracks were dated to 3/12/66. Much debate on its dating goes on among reviewers at LMA.
1968-02-14 Carousel Ballroom
According to Blair Jackson's 'Garcia', Phil once called it his favorite show ever. 2nd set dedicated to Neal Cassady, found dead 10 days earlier; see Phil's book, pp. 121-122. Much of this show was used for Anthem of the Sun, though the live cuts were heavily overlaid in the studio as Jerry, Phil and Dan Healy intermixed various source tapes.
1968-10-12 Avalon Ballroom
Only pure psychedelia -- no blues or rock, as Pigpen was absent this night. One long song, really. Performances are energetic, tight; feedback (Phil?) amazing. Literally made me gasp. Sound quality superb: clear and loud.
1968-10-30 Matrix (Mickey & the Hartbeats)
Without Weir and Pigpen, whom the others had temporarily fired. The sound quality is fantastic. The historical interest is high, and the performances stunning. They sound very focused, clear, and intense. Most of the songs have no vocals. Very psychedelic most of the time.
1969-02-11 At the Fillmore East
2-CD set issued by GD Records in 1997.
Fabulous. Excellent sound and stunning performances. Jerry's solo in the jam between the two drums segments is like psychedelic bluegrass picking, except that Bobby and Phil keep up. Two weeks before the legendary Harpur College show on Dicks Picks 8. Reviewers below say, "Crisp, clear, Dead at their best. The sound quality is so good it's almost hard to believe." "Amazing performance and sound quality." Some unexpected cuts to some tracks, on the original tape.
1971-01-00 PERRO Sessions
These are fabulous. Sound quality and performances both great. Garcia, Hart, Lesh, Crosby, Nash, Kaukonen, Slick and others, jamming in Wally Heider's studio. When the Crosby, Stills & Nash box-set was being put together, some mystery reels were found. As Grace recalls, "These sessions were like 'Uh, do you wanna play guitar on this one?' 'No, man, I have to go to the bathroom.' 'Okay, David, you wanna play?' 'Sure'. Whoever felt like doing something did it. Parts interchanged, people interchanged." Graham Nash says, "They asked me my opinion and I just jumped right in. Grace, Paul, David - they let me do whatever I heard. I was searching for this kind of environment when I came to America and when I was mixing in the studio our imaginations were running rampant. We were creating virtual kingdoms with music." The second such PER&RO project was David Crosby's debut solo album, 'If I Could Only Remember My Name', which features all of the above-mentioned Planet Earthers plus the likes of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Greg Rolie and Mike Shrieve.
1971-02-18 Capitol Theater, Port Chester, NY
"The Feb. 71 Port Chester run was the jewel in the crown of the Betty Boards. ... The most popular show of the run from universal acclaim is 2-18, the first night. The reasons are several: set list, historical significance of last show with Mickey and first show for many tunes that became permanent fixtures in the repetoire (Bertha, Playing in the Band, Wharf Rat, etc. etc.), as well as the small fact that 2-18 contained some extraordinary beautiful musical moments, most notably the "beautiful" jam in Dark Star." Many firsts: Bertha, Loser, Greatest Story and Wharf Rat. It was during this run that Mickey left the band for 3 years.
1971-02-19 ++ Capitol Theater
Location Port Chester, NY
First show without Mickey; first Deal and Bird Song. Really nice sound and performances -- tight and energetic playing. Smokestack Lightnin', China >Rider, The Other One suite, and Good Lovin are particularly good.
1971-07-02 Fillmore West
"A crystal clear & wonderful show; words cannot do justice." "Among the handful of best '71's," according to Dr. Flashback. Highlights: the 18 minute good lovin' and 20 minute cryptical>drums>other one are called "some of the most insired versions played during all of 71." The 17 minutes Good Lovin closing set 1 is called one of the "top 5 good lovins of all time. this is pure G.D. rock & roll."
1972-08-27 Veneta, OR
Old Renaissance Faire Grounds
Location: Veneta, OR
Exquisite, start to finish. Best Dark Star of all? A benefit for Ken Kesey's brother's Creamery that became one of the mythic best performances of their entire career.
1972-09-16 Boston Music Hall
Relaxed jazz night in Boston. This incomplete SBD has very nice sound quality, with an exquisite 20-minute Playin' and near-half-hour Dark Star, both lively rather than spacey (they do get lost in the forest, but in a relatively nice place). The concluding Not Fade Away suite is happy, energetic, and near perfect.
1973-05-20 Santa Barbara
Excellent sound quality and performances throughout. On many people's best of 1973 lists. See Dr. Flashback's review below. Highlights: exquisite Playin' In The Band and from Truckin' -> the end is all superb.
1973-09-07 Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Location Uniondale, NY
This is a phenomenal performance that's only marred by occasional patches from AUD's (Truckin'). Still, it has superb, intricate jamming, carefully played up-beat versions of the American Beauty songs, and sensitive, evocative treatments of the thoughtful Workingman's and Wake songs. Ignore the blemishes and enjoy the quintessential virtuosity.
1974-05-14 Missoula, MT
Adams Field House - University of Montana
Among my very favorite shows at Internet Archive. Sound quality and performances both great. "WRS>Let It Grow>Dark Star is what makes this show.... even by 74 standards it does things to you"
Superb sound and fantastic performances. Unusually fine in all respects. 'Incredible - very clean' sound quality: 'all the instruments and vocals are very well balanced.'
1975-09-28 Golden Gate Park
Fabulous performance and excellent sound quality. This is clearly one of the best shows, with too many highlights to list. A free concert in the park.
1976-06-09m Boston Music Hall
In general, a delicate masterpiece rather than a rockin' barn burner, which"sounds better than some offical releases from the DP series." Lovely Music Never Stopped and Crazy Fingers; exquisite Saint Stephen -> Eyes.
1976-06-11s Music Hall, Boston
The third of the four consecutive Boston shows, and the best. It has impeccable performances of the first set songs and a rousing, tight second set, all preserved in superb sound quality.
1977-02-26 Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA
Sound and performances are both superb. No bad cuts, and a fine precursor to what would follow later in the spring.
1977-05-04 Palladium, NYC Second set only; actually one long jam, with all the late-70s favorites played in succession in superb versions. The sound quality is phenomenal: clear, crisp, distortion-free, well-mixed. Playing is tight and energetic but also spacy and transcendental. This is the Dead that I love. Donna's sweet and mystical, and so's Jerry's lead. It's hard to pick out a single cut as pre-eminently better than the others.
1977-05-07 Boston Garden
Sound quality superb. Performances among the best ever. Highlights: banter throughout about equipment trouble. Cassidy, Deal, Estimated Prophet, Eyes, Music Never Stopped, Around & Around
1977-05-08m Barton Hall, Cornell Univ
Considered by many to be the best show of all. I think it deserves its reputation. This version combines a Betty Board with two high-generation audience recordings.
1977-10-02 Paramount Theater, Portland, OR
Quintessential '77 Dead, with Donna in great form and the whole band subtly energized and exquisite. Sound quality extraordinary (a Betty Board).
Back home after an amazing year of tours. Except for a couple small patches near the end, virtually flawless sound quality and performances.
1978-04-12 Cameron Indoor Stadium, Duke University, Durham, NC
After technical problems on the first two cuts, remarkable sound quality and performances, highly praised by reviewers as one of the best 78 shows and recordings. Great versions of Lazy Lightnin, Supplication, Good Lovin', Estimated Prophet, Eyes.
Performances are fierce and energetic, sound quality superb. Tunings, comments by Bill Graham ("only ones who do what they do"), and banter are all retained. Fabulous Scarlet>Fire, NFA>GDTRFB.